Up North: Martial Arts competitors combat winter weather at Spirit of the Arts tournament

Up North: Martial arts competitors combat winter weather at Spirit of the Arts tournament

Up North: Martial arts competitors combat winter weather at Spirit of the Arts tournament

Over 170 competitors flocked to Clyde Iron Works on Sunday to take part in the Spirit of the Arts tournament.

The tournament, which ranged from ages six to 75, saw all kinds of martial arts on display.

With creative musicals, where competitors perform with music, to weapons, to team events, there’s no limit to the possibilities.

What is it about the events though that keep people coming back, and engaged?

“Well, I think part of it is that it’s an individual thing that we do together,” said Stefan Stein, a sensei at Stonehouse Martial Arts, who hosted the event. “So it’s not as competitive as team sports are where you always have to make the team or not make the team. It is an individual event, but you can’t really do it by yourself. So you need other people. It’s very social. I think helps with the longevity of it.”

“Pride, honor, control, all of it rolls into there,” said Ryan Niesen, a second degree black belt with Karate North. “I keep doing it. I told my wife today, I really don’t want to go, but I do want the kids to keep going. I want people to have this experience. Martial arts has given me a lot over the years, so I want that for the next generation coming through.”

With over 170 competitors, the Spirit of the Arts event was a showcase for those to get their routines and work out there for judges and for people who stopped by to watch.

Karate and the branches of forms within are rooted in respect, and that comes on the mat and in each competitors life as well.

“Respect is deeply rooted in the martial arts and so it’s taught from your first day as a student in the school and it carries into events like this and it’s one of the things that I think makes it great for especially kids to participate in,” added Patrick Childs, a 6th degree black belt. “I hear all the time about how kids that are doing well in school oftentimes are also in the martial arts. So it goes outside of just the school.”

With music, swords, and belts ranging from beginning yellows to black belts, the judges are looking for a bunch of things.

“We’re looking for a good technique, control, power and snap, and showmanship a little bit,” said Niesen, who was one of the judges. “So when they come on, they have good intensity power and you hear the screaming in the background that always adds a little bit of flair to it.”

No matter how young or old a competitor is, they can never stop learning.

“We never stop being students,” said Stein. “So in my case, I’m considered to be one of the teachers, but really, I’m just a student that’s been around a long time that is still teaching. But primarily, I’m a student like everybody else.”